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Union ministries flout Election Commission rules, ministers reference not removed from websites

Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 8:10am IST | Agency: dna

References of the ministers/politicians on the ministries portal is prohibited during elections

With a picture on the home page with the links to his works, Google hang-outs, detailed profile of his party (Indian National Congress) and the constituency (Ajmer, Rajasthan)…the young union minister for corporate affairs Sachin Pilot truly rocks on his ministry's website.

If you want to check the "achievements" and political career of other Union cabinet ministers like Kapil Sibal, Veerapa Moily, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Pallam Raju, simply long on to their websites of telecommunications, civil aviation, health and family welfare and human resources development ministries respectively. The portals prominently carry the links which will lead you to the special dedicated pages on the ministers.

Though boasting "achievements" of ministers on the official portals is a common practice across India, it is prohibited during the elections.

As per the EC circular, all references of the ministers, politicians and political parties on the official websites have to be deleted during the election period of general/ assembly and bye-polls. The circular explains the section 7 (4) of the model code of the conduct which ensures that the "party in power" doesn't use its official position for the election campaign.

However, almost a month has passed since the code came into effect on March 5 for the Lok Sabha election several websites are still flaunting profiles of ministers who are very much in the poll fray.

Interestingly, the ministries didn't comply with the fresh notices the EC sent to the cabinet secretary, chief secretaries and chief electoral officers of all the state and union territories on March 20. In the notice, drafted in the strong words, the commission has expressed its displeasure over non-compliance of the rules."It was observed that many ministries and departments and government organisations are "eulogising" their achievements as the personal achievements of the ministers and politicians." The authorities have been asked to ensure "strict compliance".

The Finance ministry website gives detailed profile of P Chidambaram but his photo is removed citing code of conduct. The home Ministry, Railway, Textile and Power websites are strictly following the EC's norms. The Ministry of external affairs website was flaunting Salman Khurshid in a big way till last week but all his pictures and links were removed by Thursday night so as Civil Aviation Ministry.

The election officials were unavailable for comments. Political analyst Suhas Palshikar says, "The ministers' details on the official websites can definitely help them to boost their election campaigns. This must be a cause of worry for election commission."

Maha toes the line
The Maharashtra government website, however, removed the pictures of CM and deputy CM only last week after being pointed out by media. The UP government's website still portrays CM Akhilesh Yadav crediting him for "good works" so as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal. The Haryana, MP, Punjab, Gujarat government websites have no mention of ministers or CM.

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